I recently picked up a copy of the new John Little book – “High-Intensity Training: The Mike Mentzer Way” – and wholeheartedly suggest it to any Mentzer fans looking to add a tome to their collections (Bill?).
At the beginning of the second chapter (aptly titled: “Individual Potential”), there is a picture of a young Mike Mentzer at 15, placed next to picture taken 14 years later at the 1980 Olympia, when Mentzer was at his muscular peak. Comparing the two shots, taken 14 years of heavy training (and some steroid enhancement) apart, Olympia Mentzer doesn’t look that much more massive than young Mentzer. In fact, in terms of general size, the two look quite comparable – the latter having MUCH more in the way of definition and refinement, of course.
But to tell the truth, he doesn’t look any bigger. Maybe a tiny bit. Or little more than that.
One of the questions I frequently get asked is, “How can I gain 30 pounds of muscle?”, accompanied by its companion question, “How big can I get?” I usually respond by stating that a smart, progressive strength training routine will bring one close to their genetic potential for muscular size within a year or two. The rest of one’s training career will consist of increases in strength, perhaps small jumps in muscle size, but nothing much above and beyond the initial couple of years.
While it may be true that a neophyte may be able to increase their muscle size 50 pounds or so over the course of 10 years by bulking and working up to mind-bendingly heavy weights on the compound movements (a la Hardgainer/Dino Training), realize that for most individuals, this constitutes more discipline and work than they may be able to muster, particularly if their life’s focus is not getting as HUGE as humanly possible. Realize also that along with that added muscle, fat tissue comes along for the ride – to both cushion and support the joints in the lifting of said heavy weights. Just attaining this degree of size and strength requires more willpower and sticktoittiveness than the average person possesses – to say nothing of what is required to attain leanness after reaching this state.
No, dear readers, what we are addressing in the previous paragraph is surpassing one’s genetic potential. You were not supposed to get that big, but you did by stuffing yourself and lifting the world, which, if that is your perogative, is perfectly fine with skinny ol’ me.
The point I’m trying to hammer home is that the concept of reaching one’s potential in a year or two isn’t crazy, as I’ve been told. Just check out the Mike Mentzer book. Do it in the bookstore; you don’t even have to buy it. Go see for yourself.